GREENSBORO, NC – An affordable housing project came to light in May, when the brand-new Genesis Gardens apartment building opened off Bessemer Avenue.
It marked the end of a two-year old idea and the first time the City of Greensboro invested money into housing in the area.
“In this neighborhood, there were not funds designated for housing,” said Reverend Theodore Stevens, Jr.
Stevens, his wife Alicia, Rev. Dr. Linwood Carver, Dr. Horlin Carter, and Rev. Dr. Gregory Headen are all pastors and members of the Genesis Baptist Church, located across the street from the new development. Faced with the run-down conditions of the adjacent neighborhood, an empty lot and a housing crisis, the five decided to come up with a solution.
“This was a neighborhood that was overlooked and there were vacant house and vacant lots and drugs and it was vagrancy and things,” Stevens explained. “The pastor decided that the church wanted to stay in this community. The church is the stabilizing force is all the communities.”
After the idea, came the need for funds. The City of Greensboro invested $350,000 into the project, via a low-interest loan. Another $650,000 came from BB&T, with the rest coming from funds raised by the pastors. The nearly $1 million-dollar project is now complete, with 12 three bedrooms, two bathroom apartments. Four units are set aside for veterans.
Rent ranges from $750 to $800 a month and all units are energy efficient with the expected energy bill being around $100 dollars.
On Friday, May 5th, applications were accepted for the apartments.
“We had six families move in within 24 hours,” said Stevens, who could already see these units were only a small drop in the bucket of housing need.
All the units had occupants within a few days.
“We have 12 units and if we had 12 more, we could rent those by the end of the month.”
Over 30,000 households in the city are cost-burdened, meaning more than 30 percent of income is spent on housing.
“We know that there are people that live in this community that are living in smaller units without windows that close and doors that shut without adequate got and cold water and air conditioning,” Stevens explained. “We could help people that are left behind or left out or don’t have these types of housing in these types of neighbors and we can make a real difference.”
This won’t be the last venture into affordable housing for the team. They’ve already purchased a three-and-a-half-acre lot off Ball road and plan to build 54 units for the elderly and for single veterans.
Currently, they are in the process of trying to get the area rezoned. Stevens said he expects those units to go quickly.
“Affordable housing should be for everyone in any community.”